Sunday, June 13, 2010

Imaginary Worlds


One of the joys of childhood is imagination, creating worlds all your own and exploring them. This week I was reminded of those daydreaming days. My nine-year-old niece and I were mixing up a batch of brownies in my kitchen. Her arms barely reached the countertop, so I pulled up a stool for her to sit on. My sister-in-law remarked on our kitchen island in passing conversation as we continued to measure out the sugars for the recipe.

After dumping cocoa on to the counter and floor, we managed to get enough in the measuring cup to move on to the stove where my niece proudly sat atop the stool and stirred the chocolaty powder in with the melted butter. Mid stir her eyes lit up, and she jumped down to the floor and said, “Let’s pretend we’re in the middle of the ocean.”

I watched as she told her story with animated expressions, eyes flooded with excitement. She waved her tiny hands over the right side of the room to section it off from the rest of the open space. “This is the deepest part of the water,” she said, moving in circles under the breakfast nook chandelier.

Her bare feet danced toward me, stopping at the sink. With her index finger she traced an invisible line around my flip flops. “Here’s where the sand is.” Then, as one would twirl a magic wand she made a great, swirling motion saying, “And this will be our island.” Her fingers were dotted with the brown sugar that had spilled down from the butcher block like granules of sand.

In an instant she had sucked me into her imaginary world where kitchens became glistening beaches with glassy, blue water and a treasure chest filled with brownies. She spent the rest of the night sipping cocoa and eating brownie sundaes, her pink, painted toes leaving imprints in my tan carpet.

When they left, my house was quiet and a little lonely. On my way to the kitchen, I looked down and saw one of her footprints, thankfully there had been no tide to wash it away.

While cleaning up our breakfast dishes I closed my eyes and envisioned our beach, a place my niece had created just for us, a place where ordinary life became extraordinary.

As a writer I’m always looking for inspiration. Like my niece, I strive to tell stories that say, This is my world. I created it just for us. Would you like to experience it with me?

Whether you’re staring at four walls of a dimly lit cubicle or looking out at a sea of buildings in a crowded city, take some time out today to daydream.

And don’t be afraid to take someone along with you. Maybe start a conga line through the office or turn the conference room into a tropical paradise. A little imagination can make a dismal day a delight.